Fenwick High School gathered 30 of its athletes who will continue their athletic careers on the Division I, II, III and NAIA level for a group photograph on Monday, April 30.
Two of the athletes are Meredith Boardman (front row, far left), who will play basketball at Northwestern University in Evanston, and Marek Burchett (front row, sixth from left), who will play basketball at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.
Lewis University (Romeoville, Ill.) is on its way to the Final Four in men's volleyball this weekend.
Led by Downers Grove North graduate Jay Petty and Brother Rice graduate Matt Gallik, No. 7 Lewis (26-6) defeated No. 10 Ohio State 20-25, 25-17, 22-25, 27-25, 15-10 to win the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association championship at Ohio State on Saturday, April 28.
Lewis will play at-large berth awardee USC at USC at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 in the NCAA Division I Men's Volleyball National Final Four. The match can be viewed at www.ncaa.com.
Petty finished with 25 kills, eight digs and six blocks to lead Lewis. Gallik added 12 blocks (one solo).
University of California at Irvine (24-5), the winner of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, will play Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association winner Penn State (23-5) in the other semifinal.
The University of Notre Dame, behind National Player of the Year junior Rob Bauer and 2008 Brother Rice graduate Kevin Padden, won the 2012 National Collegiate Men's Volleyball Tournament Championship earlier last month in Kansas City, Mo., defeating UC Berkeley 25-23,
Notre Dame (34-7) advanced to the finals by defeating Illinois-A 25-19, 23-25, 15-12 in the semifinals.
Dan Dowjotas (Westmont, Ill./Montini Catholic H.S.), a three-time All-American at St. Ambrose, was named the 2012 NAIA Men's Volleyball National Player of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).
The 6-3 outside hitter was the driving force behind St. Ambrose's program-best 33-win season and the team's second straight appearance in the national championship match. He finished his career for the Bees' as the school's all-time kill leader with 1,652.
St. Ambrose is coached by Oak Lawn native and Brother Rice graduate Bill Gleeson.
Lincoln-Way East will host one of the season's best tournaments this weekend hoping to improve upon its second-place finish to Glenbrook North at the Brother Rice Smack Attack.
"We played really well (at Brother Rice)," LW East coach Kris Fiore said. "We just kind of sputtered at the end against a very good Glenbrook North team. But we're going to learn from that.
"We've been talking about things we can do to correct and get better from that game," he added. "They exploited us on some things and we're working on improving on those."
Senior outside hitter Nate Royer said defense - and confidence - are key to the Griffins' success.
"We've picked up our defense lately, and our serving and passing been great," he said. "We're running a quick offense and playing confident volleyball, and that's good."
Waubonsie Valley reclaimed a spot in the top 10 after a two-week absence with its impressive performance at Benet last weekend, knocking off Glenbard West in the semifinals and host Benet in the championship.
"The sky's the limit (for this team)," coach Al Lagger said. "We just have to keep pushing hard, taking them one at a time and trying our best each time."
The championship should give Waubonsie Valley (22-5) some ammunition heading into the sectional seeding process. The Warriors are one of many teams that would like to avoid sectional host Wheaton Warrenville South in a regional.
"We knew we had to do well in this tournament to get a higher seed," Lagger said.
Benet isn't very tall. Even the Redwings' middle are short compared to most teams. So they have one simple function - get their hands on enough balls and funnel the hits to the team's libero or left front blocker.
"It's a funny thing," Benet coach Amy Van Eekeren said. "You want swings, but you need blocks. Their main goal for us is blocks. If they don't get the blocks, they have to line it up and channel the ball to our defense, either to our left front or to our libero down the line.
"That the goal," she added. "But if they're in spots they're not used to playing, they're not quite closing the blocks and they're not channeling the ball the way we need it to go."
Benet's usual strategy took a bit of a hit Saturday when the team's best middle, 6-foot-2 senior Matt Conroy, suffered an ankle injury early in the day and leg cramps in the title match against Waubonsie Valley.
"We rely on solid blocking to set up our defense," Van Eekeren said. "At first, we thought it was the same ankle he rolled earlier in the day. But then we realized it was leg cramps. We had to so dome icing for sure."
Marian Catholic's Amber Clay, former Benet standout Maddie Haggerty, Decatur St. Teresa's Marie Less and Bryanna Weiskircher of Rockford Boylan were named to the Prepvolleyball.com Soph 79 - the top 79 sophomores in the country -- announced recently.
Clay led Marian Catholic to the state semifinals for the first time in school history. She had 286 kills on the season, including 18 in the state semifinal against Woodstock Marian Central and seven in the third-place loss to St. Francis.
Haggerty's 16 kills in the state championship match helped Benet overcome Cary-Grove. Now the 6-1 sophomore will take her talents to St. Francis, where she will join her younger sister Molly. Haggerty finished third on Benet in kills and blocks and fourth in aces.
Less, a 5-9 outside hitter, had 343 kills for the Bulldogs, who reached the Class 2A Final Four, while the 6-1 Weiskircher, who has verbally committed to Penn State, had 433 kills and 329 assists for the Class 3A sectional semifinalists.